Raising the Bar – Evolution Automotive

Words by Raj Hunjan | Photography by Branden Gordineer

What happens when the supercar you buy isn’t enough, if the performance and handling leave you wanting more? Evolution Automotive step in. The company was setup by David Johnston III to tailor and enhance some of the finest cars on the planet.

Passion should come first in a great business, Evolution Automotive is no exception. David’s hobby of deconstructing his own Ferrari 360 Spyder on his front lawn, replicating parts in carbon fibre and writing how-to maintenance guides for FerrariChat, grew in to a workshop that receives commissions and carbon parts orders from across the globe. Going back even further, David’s love for all things automotive blossomed when at school. His father owned a pristine 1965 Mustang in Burgundy with Black leather, which attracted a huge amount of attention from school friends and their parents alike. The car was a connoisseurs choice of transport, an All-American hero. The love grew every time David would help his father wash the Mustang on the driveway. As first cars go, David’s was pretty epic in my opinion – a 1969 Chevrolet Camaro.

Fast forward through the years to when David had some money saved, the first true exotic arrived on his driveway, a 2001 Ferrari 360 Spider. Ferrarichat is the ultimate resource for any Ferrari owner, and David got sucked in to the community, not only learning everything there was to learn about the Ferrari, but also sharing information and guiding others on maintaining their own cars. “A car is a car, nothing more, nothing less.” proclaims David in a phone call with me. David found that it was possible to do most of the ‘wrenching’ necessary to keep a Ferrari on the road, which significantly reduced the cost of ownership and also allowed you to truly understand your car. “Anyone who has ever dealt with an official Ferrari dealership will know that not only are they very proud of their cars, they are also very proud of their labour.” Sometimes this becomes an issue, especially when an enthusiast like David (and many others out there) buy the car of their dreams and find it hard to justify the costs associated with keeping it on the road with their local Ferrari dealer.

David started putting together his own tutorials on specific labour intensive jobs that need to be carried out on the Ferrari 360. One that sticks in the mind involves an espresso cup as one of the recommended tools, it is his guide on how to replace the Ferrari 360 F1 transmission pump. David would source all the parts for his DIY repairs at cost, via Ricambi America, not his local Ferrari dealer (which would often add huge markups on anything they sold). He would then photograph every step of the process. The F1 pump requires priming, a job that Ferrari claimed could only be done with their SD2 Diagnostic Tool in the workshop. David studied the pump and came to the conclusion that by simply connecting a small 12V toy car battery to the terminals, it would starting priming. Upon mounting the pump and plumbing in all the pipework, he needed something to catch the run-off fluid as he primed the pump. The pump is mounted in a very small area behind the offside rear wheel. David grabbed the most suitable implement from the kitchen, which happened to be an espresso cup. The forum went wild about this step. As his guides were getting used by other owners, he started getting messages asking for advice and guidance. Soon owners were also asking him to carry out the work for them! Evolution Automotive was born.

David also started fabricating carbon parts for his cars, along with some other members of Ferrarichat. Neighbours would stare in disbelief as David would have bits of the interior of his Ferrari 360 Spyder laid out across his front lawn, while taking moulds of parts like the centre console so he could make a carbon fibre copy. Early carbon parts included shifter paddles, consoles, door handles and wing mirrors. As well as making direct replacements for parts, David could also cover more complex parts with carbon fibre for the aesthetics(commonly known as “wet layup” in the industry”), rather than weight saving, which led to people sending him parts to cover for their cars.

Evolution Automotive now offers carbon parts that weren’t even on the new car options lists for the latest and greatest supercars. For example, the Lamborghini Huracan could be specced with a selection of carbon fibre interior parts in what is called Forged Carbon Fibre. This form of carbon fibre looks completely different to the glossy uniform carbon fibre weave that most people are used to. To solve this issue, Evolution Automotive have produced their own range of bolt on parts in the more aesthetically pleasing carbon fibre. Taking this even further, the company can match any manufacturers weave, be it 1×1 or 2×2 style and beyond. Ferrari and Porsche use 1×1 carbon weave, whereas Lamborghini and McLaren (also most others) use 2×2 sheeting. Pagani are the outlier, using 4×4 weave. What is most impressive is that Evolution Automotive are producing parts for these cars that were never even offered in carbon fibre, both on the inside, in the engine bay and on the exterior.

“I realised quite recently that we have turned a significant corner, I have a number of official McLaren, Lamborghini and other exotic brands buying my carbon fibre parts for their customers cars. Having their support is phenomenal.”

The market for supercar customisation really took off for David in 2014, when he started getting customers shipping their zero miles supercars direct from the supplying dealer straight to his undisclosed workshop in Jacksonville, Florida. The majority of the cars that are worked on by Evolution Automotive are brand new, specced as far as they can be with the manufacturer. David and his trusted team then strip the cars down as necessary and build them back up with the all the choice pieces that have been specified (under advice of David). This will include carbon parts, wheels, brakes, suspension and engine enhancements. David develops packages for cars, nothing is ignored in the pursuit of the ultimate and unique exotic.

Evolution Automotive work closely with JRZ Suspensions, Fabspeed Motorsports, Capristo, MASE Engineering, plus many more who specialise in key areas. There is newly emerging term for what David does, Exotic Automobile Consulting. David spends a lot of time on the phone, talking to customers about their cars and what they are looking to achieve, and then applying his knowledge and vision into designing a package of enhancements that satisfy the customers cravings. A factory car is somewhat compromised, what David does is remove as much of that compromise as possible to bring it closer to the original concept and in turn make it much more effective on the road and track. Often cars are lowered by 30mm with revised spring rates and damper settings. Lightweight wheels are fitted, carbon fibre panels installed and other choice parts are selected to take the car to the next level. Sometimes customers want the outside to change, without the need for an expensive respray, so David arranges #201 Wraps to cover the entire car and door shuts with coloured vinyl film. Not only does this transform the look of the car, it also effectively protects the original paintwork.

Remapping a supercar is an art form, first of all a car is put on a dyno bed and the base engine map is analyzed, which highlights where there are flat spots in the power and torque curves. The specialists, MASE Engineering, will then modify the maps to improve not just headline figures but also make the delivery throughout the rev range more progressive. This totally changes the character of a supercar, for the better. In fact it seems that it doesn’t just make the car quicker, but also safer and economical too, depending on your driving style that is! The company’s own 488 GTB has 100 bhp and 120ft lb of torque increase over the standard 660 bhp and 560ft lb of torque. Crucially this is not just in one place, the increase builds naturally through the rev range. What is great about working on ultimate cars is their supporting components can cope with these increases. The ceramic brakes on the 488 GTB for example are overkill on the road. Likewise the transmission can live with 800 whp.

“If it is good enough for my car, only then will it be offered up to my customers”

This philosophy persists in all of David’s work and products, they have to be given his seal of approval before being entrusted on other peoples cars.
Each car that is worked on gets thoroughly tested over a period of time by David and the team, so that it is proven to function as intended in all situations. The customers are looking for a stress free service, they want to be handed the keys to a supercar that they can jump in and take for a Sunday morning blast, not having to worry whether it will start or run well.

“My customers aren’t wrenchers like me, they want zero hassle. Even to the point where I liaise with their in-house mechanics about fitting a set of carbon steering wheel paddles.”

I managed to grab some time with David at Evolution Automotive this month to go through some of the incredible projects they are working on. One project that caught my attention is a total conversion of the McLaren MP4-12C into a 675LT, including twin turbo upgrade, interior refit and full front/rear bodywork transformation. I’ll be looking in detail at this build later in the year. David has managed to obtain a McLaren P1 steering wheel for the build which will finish the car off perfectly. The timescale for this huge undertaking is six months. This is a big commitment for both the owner and Evolution Automotive. As a rule David and his team work on a maximum of two cars in the workshop,

“absolute attention to detail is key to providing the very best service for our customers.”

The company’s own demonstration car is a true feat of engineering, styling and function. David picked the ultimate supercar to showcase Evolution Automotive’s capabilities. It is a 2017 Ferrari 488GTB in Rosso Corsa with Black interior and Red contrasting stitching. The carbon ceramic brake callipers are finished in Yellow and as you would expect, a full carbon fibre interior completed with a set of Goldrake racing seats.

Such is the quality of the parts that Evolution Automotive produce, they get orders from the UK, Middle East, Far East – basically anywhere supercars are found. Funnily enough, most customers still prefer to pick up the phone and speak to David or one of the team, rather than order through the online shop. Getting on the phone with these potential customers benefits everyone too, quite often David will advise them on the suitability of the parts they are thinking of ordering, as well as offering complementary parts and in some cases, totally different parts altogether. It isn’t uncommon for callers to order multiple times their initial request in their first order with Evolution Automotive. David gets to know all of his customers and their cars, even if they never meet. If you ever want to speak to a true wrencher with high octane fuel running through his veins, pick up the phone and dial (904)-629-0887 or visit www.Evolution-Automotive.com
Last but not least, David would like to thank his fiancé Samantha for her unsurpassed support in the Evolution Automotive journey. Her understanding of perfection requiring long work hours and also her willingness to lift a wrench on occasion is nothing short of incredible.

Evolution Automotive Installed Components
Carbon Door Sills
Carbon AC Control Cover
Carbon Engine Bay Panels
Carbon Lock Cover
Capristo Carbon Speciale Style Side Fins
Carbon Front Spoiler
Carbon Water Cooler Cover
Carbon Door Handles
Capristo Carbon Gas Cap
Carbon Side Mirror Accents
Carbon Rear Vent Outlets
Carbon Rear Diffuser with Active Aero

Other Enhancements
Lowered Suspension
Custom Satin Black Powder Coated Wheels
Titanium Wheel Bolts
Black vinyl wrapped door handle surrounds
Satin Black Wrapped Roof
Satin Black Powder Coated Exhaust Tips

ECU Tuned by Mase Engineering to produce 780bhp and 700 ft lb of torque

Evolution Automotive
#201 Wraps
Powder Pros
Mase Engineering

One thought on “Raising the Bar – Evolution Automotive

Comments are closed.